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Apr 29, 2024

Dancing With the Stars

Barry Kaufman

Photography By

M.Kat
The Lowcountry’s best and brightest come out to shine for a good cause

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There’s a motto that Town of Bluffton Assistant Town Manager Chris Forster lives by: “Do hard things.”

“It’s a constant reminder to put myself out of my comfort zone,” he said. “Dancing in front of a crowd of people, many of whom know you, is a little nerve-wracking, but I’m excited.”

As one of the 11 local celebrities who will be taking the stage for Dancing With the Stars May 19 at Seaquins Ballroom, Forster is not alone in balancing giddy excitement with pre-show jitters.

Daniel Cort and Monica Bohrer 

“It’s a challenge that I’m embracing with enthusiasm,” said another of the dancing stars, Daniel Cort. As a prolific local stage actor and board member at Main Stage Community Theatre (in addition to his full-time real estate career), Cort is no stranger to performing on stage. But that doesn’t mean he considers himself a dancer. “There are triple threats. I’m like a double threat, with a small dose of triple,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve had some shows that required me to dance but I had to work at it. But then, that’s the fun of this whole event.”

Back Row: Rosie Jones, Sami Othmani, Daniel Cort, Riley Miller, Chris Forster, Gemilee Marquez, Armando Aseneta, Scott Wierman, Meghan Green and Joe Babkiewicz Front Row: Maggie Washo, Wendy Barrett, Sandro Virag, Monica Bohrer, Lori Price and Jessa Jeremiah 

Meghan Green and Joe Babkiewicz

“I love to put on a show, so I’m excited for it,” said WJCL anchor Riley Miller. “I’m doing a salsa, so it’s a lot of moving, and a lot of dips. I’ve been working on my flexibility. My homework is stretching.”

Sandro Virag and Riley Miller 

Each comes into the event with next to zero dance experience, save for the lessons they’ve been undertaking with their professional dance partners at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio. And each approaches their turn on the dance floor with no shortage of butterflies and excitement to be part of the Lowcountry’s own Dancing With the Stars. 

“We did a similar event 14 years ago and it was amazing,” said studio co-owner Sandro Virag. “When the Kiwanis Club approached us, asking to do it again, we were so excited.”

For Virag, that excitement goes deeper than simply sharing the stage with local celebrities and showing the world the skill and grace of his studio’s instructors. For him, the spirit of Dancing With the Stars lies in the way it brings the community together for a common cause – supporting the Boys & Girls Club. 

“Kiwanis meets at our studio, and they see us rehearsing, so we kind of grew a big family in Bluffton and Hilton Head for this event,” he said, adding that Main Stage Community Theatre is providing stage dressing for the big night. “We teach at the Boys & Girls Club and work with Pockets Full of Sunshine, PEP … this is such a small community, and we help each other through the years. We’re giving this to Kiwanis to give back to the kids. I love to support the kids because we want them to learn.”

It is a night of giving back for Virag, but he also shares in his stars’ excitement for a night of terpsichorean magic. “They’re all pretty good dancers, and they’re all working really hard because they want to win,” he said. “We’re going to set the floor on fire.”

Maggie Washo and Sandro Virag 

In addition to Forster dancing East Coast Swing, Cort performing a foxtrot, and Miller doing the salsa, Virag will join CH2’s own Maggie Washo for a Viennese Waltz. Other celebrities include Bluffton Chief of Police Joe Babkiewicz, former Miss South Carolina Julia Herrin, incoming Kiwanis President Wendy Barrett, WHHI’s Jessa Jeremiah, BlacQuity Executive Director Gwen Chambers, pro golfer Rosie Jones, and Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s Scott Wierman.

Seeing as instructors from Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio also pitch in their talents to help youth from the Boys & Girls Club learn to dance, guiding a few dance floor challenged adults through some steps should be no problem, right?

Rosie Jones and Sami Othmani

“The celebrities are better behaved sometimes, but I think the kids might learn a little faster,” Virag said with a laugh. “The group we have now is pretty dedicated. They are so committed. It’s so sweet of them to do this – they’re doing this for free. We appreciate that so much.”

Gemilee Marquez and Chris Forster

And while those in attendance will be there to help area youth and see some of their favorite celebrities show off their moves, that will be just part of the appeal of this epic night.

Armando Aseneta and Jessa Jeremiah 

“It’s not just the celebrities. We’re going to make it a nice production that night,” Virag said. “We’ll have a whole hour of Broadway tunes, some Michael Bublé … it’s going to be a great variety show between dancers to keep the crowd entertained.”

Lori Price and Scott Wierman

Dancing With the Stars will be held at 7 p.m. May 19 at Hilton Head Island Ballroom Dance Studio, 1300 Fording Island Road in Bluffton. For tickets and more information, visit hiltonheadballroom.com.  

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